Stow fail to gain rub of the green

CRICKET: A LACK of consistency in all departments has seen Stowmarket rooted to the bottom of Division Three of the Hargreaves Two Counties Championship for much of this rain-affected season.

A LACK of consistency in all departments has seen Stowmarket rooted to the

bottom of Division Three of the Hargreaves Two Counties Championship for much of this rain-affected season.

However, skipper Michael Hunt firmly believes that a better rub of the green would have seen his side comfortably in mid-table and away from any relegation fears.

"I know we have lost six out of the seven games we've actually played, but in all honesty none of the sides have looked any better than us.

"We have suffered through a number of dropped catches which have cost us dearly and the dreadful weather has not helped us at all."

Hunt, who feels that Stowmarket might have to find their own level before starting the climb back up, added: "I missed a couple of games through holiday and since then our last three have been washed out."

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Batsmen Gavin Raistrick and Jerry Ormes have both scored runs for the Chilton Way side, but Matthew Gill and Hunt have both been inconsistent.

"I got a 40 and a 30 at the start of the season, but I don't think I reached double figures since," added the skipper who took over this year from Graham Underwood.

"Work has prevented Graham from playing a lot so the majority of the bowling has been done by John Dickie, Chris Brinkley and Paul Bird.

"John has bowled economically without taking a lot of wickets, Chris usually gets three or four per game while Paul has had no luck at all and most of the dropped catches have been off his bowling.

"If some of the games we lost, such as against Copford, had gone our way, it would have given us much more confidence.

"We'd set them around 190 and for a while were in the driving seat, but we couldn't polish them off and they muddled through to win.

"On the other side of the coin, having been nine for two against St Margaret's, we then had a partnership of 150 which helped take us past their total, but that has been our only success to date.

"We have to find our level and if that means Division Four cricket next season, then so be it.

"It's been difficult for this club over the years to have lost the likes of Adam King, Mick Peck and Roger Daykin. They were one-offs, very good players and virtually impossible to replace.

"It didn't help this year when we lost Will Spreadbury to Copdock and OIs while teenage bowler James Evans, who came through our youth set up, is now playing at Woolpit.

"It's been a very frustrating season for us so far and forthcoming holidays are going to make it even more difficult, but if we can get a few results and better weather, we could still escape the drop."

Tomorrow, Stowmarket are at home to mid-table Brightlingsea, while St Margaret's face a testing time at leaders Coggeshall.

In Division One, Copdock and OIs are now breathing down the necks of leaders Exning and won't want to slip up at Chantry Park against Ipswich and East Suffolk.

Exning are at home to Felixstowe but the tight ground could be to the liking of Jaque Oberholzer and company.

Browns, who are still third, need to pick themselves up after last week's defeat by Copdock and with skipper Martyn Kidd missing, left arm pace bowler Charlie Sadler will assume the mantle and ask his array of batsmen to show a lot more steel in the home game with in-form Braintree.

Unbeaten leaders Mistley are almost guaranteed a quick return to Division One, but the battle below them for promotion is hotting up.

Second-placed Easton need to win at Witham as the second teams of Bury and Halstead are within a whisker of them.

East Bergholt are at Hadleigh in Division Four while Achilles, who have slipped to fourth from bottom are away to second placed Little Bardfield.